Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden, Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry (09-29-2016)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the injury report:

"Did not participate was [Bashaud] Breeland, ankle; [Josh] Doctson, Achilles; [Shawn] Lauvao, ankle; [Dashaun] Phillips, hamstring; Josh Norman, illness. Limited were DeSean [Jackson], knee and ankle; [Trent] Murphy, elbow [and] shoulder; [Kendall] Reyes, groin; Trent Williams, knee. Full, [Chris] Baker, elbow [and] toe; and [Deshazor] Everett, knee; and [Ty] Nsekhe, foot."

On if there is any worry about CB Josh Norman playing this weekend:

"I don't think so, no. Hopefully. [He has a] flu bug."

On if the illness was caused by practicing in the rain:

"Yeah. Paul Kelly's fault [laughter]."

On the plan for C John Sullivan:

"I think the first go around will be as a backup role – which is very important, we found that last week. If you're up as an offensive lineman, whether we dress seven or eight, we've learned over the last couple of years that you have to be ready to play. He'll be ready to play."

On a more definitive timetable for Lauvao and Breeland's "week-to-week" status:

"I haven't, no. I haven't been told any numbers either. I think the early prognosis we were a little worried on Breeland, then we got some good news after the MRI. No, we're not sure; it just depends on how quickly they recover. Both of them."

On LB Trent Murphy's progress:

"I think…I'm not surprised. I've been impressed with Trent ever since he got here – his work ethic. He's been able to put on some weight. We figured he would be able to put on some muscle weight anyway because he was very young. [He's] a big-boned guy, his dad is huge and his work ethic really takes it over the top in terms of getting better. Whatever position he's asked to play, he's going to play it. I think the addition of Greg Manusky has really helped him as far as playing outside linebacker and rushing. I think he's just going to get better and better."

On what has made WR Jamison Crowder so productive:

"I think his maturity, really, he's very mature for a young guy. He's 23 years old, probably, 22, maybe, 24 – I don't know how old he is [laughter]. Looks like he's about 35, 40, he acts like it, very mature. He's all about business. He's got great football intelligence, great instincts for the position. He can play inside/outside. Shown he's a great returner. Just tough as nails. You know, he's got every quality you want as far as checking the box, as far as intangibles. He's got them all."

On Crowder's improvement:

"He's just getting more opportunities—ball in his hand. He's playing a lot more. First year to second year, I've always said it, there's going to be some major improvements and he's shown that. His route, his understanding of the route concepts, the route tree, how to run the routes versus different coverages. And then the confidence that Kirk [Cousins] and the quarterback has in him to look at him a little bit more."

On how he would describe Brown's WR Terrelle Pryor:

"Unique talent, yes. I think Hue Jackson's doing a great job at using him. His talent to the best, to the max, and he's putting him all over the place and trying to get the ball in unique type ways and formation. So, he can go up and get it—he can go up and get the deep ball without a doubt. He's doing much better as far as the route tree's considered, or concerned. He can catch a bubble screen and he can run with them, and obviously when he lines up at quarterback he's very dangerous. Either handing the ball off or running the zone read stuff or even throwing the bubbles, or you know, the quick passes that he can throw. An all-around great athlete. Somebody that we have to keep an eye on at all times."

On WR DeSean Jackon's status:

"Yeah, very similar. He banged it again against the Giants and we kept him out yesterday, and today he did a little bit. Very similar to last week, and he'll do more tomorrow. And I think he should be ready to go, I would guess. Unless there's a setback."

On Crowder's improvement on punt returns:

"I think a little bit of both. I think it's his ability to make plays and his confidence in making those plays, and then the blocking. We put a lot of emphasis on that in OTAs and in training camp. Our punt return especially, we were like bottom, maybe 31st in the league, with 3.2 yard average. I think Jamison got tired of me telling him, you average three, you can fall down for 3.2 [laughter]. You know, so, he got tired of me telling him. So, he's really taking it upon himself to make some plays. That one against the Giants was almost single-handedly him. I think Duke [Ihenacho] came back and made a great peel-back block on two guys. But, I think overall the blocking's been better but Jamison's been outstanding."

On RB Matt Jones playing with more physicality this past week:

"Yes, especially the last drive. The fourth quarter is really when you saw it. I think in the first three quarters there are some runs he didn't cap off like we want him to, really to be quite honest. But I think in the fourth quarter, after his injury for whatever reason, he came back a different guy. He came back and was finishing runs, was more violent and physical, yards after contact began to grow and that's what we wanna see out of Matt, the physicality, the decisiveness, and when he does that he's a very, very good back."

On S Duke Ihenacho potentially playing more in the secondary:

"Could be. Yeah, we have…We're gonna dress four safeties most likely and they're all probably get an opportunity and then the corner situation with the nickel could be a little bit of hodge-podge there but I think all of them will produce and be active."

On Browns QB Cody Kessler:

"I think when you are looking at a rookie for the first time, you look at the poise. I think he showed great poise. He had a tough first drive but after that I think he came back. He could have really gone in the tank after that first drive and really been nervous but, he wasn't rattled at all. He came back and put his team in position to win the game. That's all you can do as a quarterback and he showed great poise. He's very accurate quarterback, without a doubt. We knew that coming in when he came out of college from [U]SC and like I said before, Hue Jackson does a great job of protecting him, throwing the quick games and the boots and all of that stuff and making it easy for the quarterback. But, Cody did a nice job of rebounding."

On Browns C Austin Reiter potentially starting at some point this season:

"I think he progressed very nicely. I think when he first got here as a seventh round pick, he was a little bit undersized, he put on some weight in the weight room, got more confident with the system and did a great job. We just ran into a numbers game. We had obviously Kory [Lichtensteiger] and Spencer Long, he was our third center and didn't really play a lot of guard so we tried to sneak him on the practice squad, wanted to keep him around but then he got plucked by Cleveland and he's definitely a legitimate starting center in the National Football League and hopefully he gets an opportunity."

Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry

On making sure everyone stays on the same page with personnel changes in the secondary:

"Well the nice thing—a little bit different than last year—at least the guys for the most part have been here. It's not like we brought guys in off the street that you get on Tuesday and you got to play on Sunday. So, that makes it a little bit easier. But, I mean obviously losing D. Hall [DeAngelo Hall], losing a captain, you know, we'll have to overcome that. We'll get Bree [Bashaud Breeland] back at some point which will be good—don't know when. You guys know my mentality, you know what we preach. It's the next man up. We don't flinch, we don't stop, the train keeps moving and we got to go play. And we'll play well."

On the addition of LB Coach Greg Manusky:

"You know, when I was in San Diego as a position coach, I handled both. So, I know—there's a huge contrast, a huge difference between an inside backer and an outside backer. And so, we just made the determination after a season it'd be good just because there is so many differences between both positions, there are so many nuances. And the fact that Greg's available and a damn good coach, we said, hey let's let the inside backers focus, let's let the outside backers focus, have two position coaches. And really the availability of Greg is why we did it. He's got a ton of experience in this league, both as a position coach and a coordinator, so he's been a great addition to our staff."

On if he or Coach Manusky planned the rotation of LB's Preston Smith, Trent Murphy, and Ryan Kerrigan:

"No, I think anytime that you do have—whether you have three guys or you have four guys—I think just being able to keep guys fresh. Ryan for example, he doesn't want to come out. I mean if we play 80 plays, he wants to play 80 plays. But that's going to take its toll, obviously during a game from a freshness standpoint, but obviously during the duration of a season. So, I think the nice thing is we got three guys that are playing well. So, if we can get a nice rotation and keep them and set a plan, 60 or 70 plays, if we can all keep them around 40 plays, it's going to benefit them obviously during the game, but also as we get going all through the season."

On experimenting in the defensive backfield over the next few weeks:

"Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think especially when you have veteran players—you look at our safety group. Veteran guys—Will Blackmon's played a number of different positons for us and throughout his career so we're going to be able to move him around. Really, [David] Bruton as well, he's a safety by trade, but he's played up in the box, he's played some dime-linebacker before. So, yes, when you have experienced guys, whether it be in your system or not, just experienced football players, you can move them around a little bit. And it's a nice luxury to have. Even with the outside guys [cornerbacks]. Not that we're going to go crazy with a Quinton Dunbar type but, you know a guy that's been playing now that's starting to understand a little bit more, you could do subtle different things with him. Josh [Norman], you know you can do whatever you want with him, move him around. But yeah, when you have those—experience, the more experience you have back there, the more things you can do."

On the impact of S Su'a Cravens and how he will be used moving forward:

"You know just what I've really been telling you guys from day one with him. I think you're talking about a young, I call him a kid—you know… he's 21 years old. But I think he's just going to get more and more comfortable. He's got unbelievable instincts and awareness and feel and the more comfortable he gets with the professional game, he's gonna---you'll see him just making more and more plays. So, he's getting more and more comfortable all the time. He's still a rookie, still a young guy, still has a million miles to go. But comes into work every day and loves football, loves working at it.  I think he's going be an exciting guy for a lot of years to come."

On the improvements and consistency he's seen with S Su'a Cravens:

"Yeah, I think that's with everyone, I mean not just Su'a, but with every player. You know, I think this league is built on consistency. I think that's been us really through three weeks is too much up and down. Not just Su'a, everybody. I think consistency is the truest measure of performance and when you're consistently playing well, not for a quarter, not for a series, but for a game. And then back it up with another game. So, we haven't done that yet. So, and that goes for all of us. That goes for me as coaching and every single man that has a helmet. We got to play consistently for 60 minutes."

On making sure S Su'a Cravens does not get too content with his early success:

* *"I kick him in the butt every single day. But, I think you gotta be who you are too. When a player does something good, I'm gonna give you kudos. When he does something bad, I'm gonna let you know. But that's, I think, again, we are talking about consistency. You gotta be consistent as a coach; you gotta do that with everybody, not just a rookie. But, Su'a definitely knows when he does something well; He definitely knows when he does something bad. But, I think every great player I've ever been around, they want to be coached and Su'a is no different. He doesn't go in the tank; he doesn't…very much like Preston Smith, last year. You know when we were always just fighting for him to be consistent, day in, day out and it's hard for young guys when they're coming into this league as twenty-one, twenty-two year olds. But, Su'a loves to get coached. He loves, he craves knowledge. He wants a pat on the back obviously like everybody when they do something good but doesn't go in the tank on you when he does something bad and you let him know. But he's…I'm excited about him, gotta keep improving, gotta keep playing. Peak-perform… play better than you did last week. He played really good last week but play better this week. So, that's the challenge every week."

On the success of LB Trent Murphy:

* *"Yeah, you know Murph is just a grinder. You know, he really is. He's gonna work, he's gonna grind, works his tail off in the weight room with Coach [Mike] Clark, works his tail off every day in practice.  You know does little things after practice, whether it be hands, footwork, get offs. He's a true professional in the sense that he's always working at his craft to try and get better and you like when it pays off for a guy on game day, you know, with statistically speaking. So, he's played very well, he's gotta continue to play very well for us."

On tackling being the hardest thing to coach due to the new rule changes:

* *"Yeah, you know, to play defense at any level you gotta be able to tackle. It's a physical, contact sport and you could have the perfect call, you could have the perfect safety rotation, you could be unblocked but if I can't get you down in the hole, it goes all for not. So, it is frustrating but that's football. But, usually, the better defense is the defense that tackles and I showed the guys a couple examples. We gave up eighty yards of rushing on five plays and on all five plays we missed huge tackles. So, had guys right there in the hole to make a tackle, you gotta pull the trigger and make the tackle. So, you can't use the fact that you don't get an opportunity to work on it, I mean everyone has that issue, so to play football at any level, I don't care if it's junior high, high school, college, the National Football League, you have to tackle, bottom line and we have to tackle better."

On the ideal snap distribution between LB Trent Murphy and LB Preston Smith:

"Yeah, you know what, you go into a game obviously saying 'okay, we are gonna each of those guys 40 plays but sometimes, you know, it's hard to exactly match that. At the end of the game sometimes a guy might have 52, another guy might have 38. I'm talking about his snaps but, we go in with an absolute plan where we want to try keep those guys at. Sometimes it is a few more, sometimes it is a few less but in a perfect world, if you can keep all three of those guys rolling right around forty snaps, again, back to the freshness, you know keeping them fresh, letting them play fast, not only in each game but throughout the longevity of the season."

On whether Cravens solidified himself as more of a linebacker or safety after three games:

"I think again, and I think we are doing quite a bit of things with him right now, both in our sub packages and our base package. Again, I think that is potentially something that could happen down the road with the more comfortable he gets but we got quite a bit on his plate right now and he's handling it well."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.